The blues have always been a bedrock presence in Mr. Coleman’s music, however avant-garde his reputation. His momentous half-century career has even delved meaningfully into funk, via his band Prime Time. But here he was working in a bebop mode, bracketing his solo flights with tight, concise themes. The blues accent felt like a thoughtful restriction, a way of grounding the abstract thrust of the performance. Whatever the case, it worked: the concert was a bracing triumph.
The Black population swelled in the 1940s, due to large manpower needs to work in the U.S. defense industry during World War II. These new arrivals needed entertainment, of course, and the local jazz and blues club scene heated up quickly.